A HOUSING provider has rubbished rumours that its chief executive has received an inflated pay rise - but it is spending tens of thousands of pounds on office refurbishments.

Aster Group has confirmed that its Greenwich Way offices are undergoing modernisation works valued in the region of £100,000 but denied that its CEO is to receive a higher percentage pay rise than other members of staff.

It was reported to the Advertiser that there has been discontent among staff because the housing boss was to receive a much higher percentage pay rise from this month than the 1.5 per cent to be given to other employees.

A group spokesperson has however said that all colleagues are to receive the same cost of living rise.

This paper was further told that the refurbishment was to include a health and wellbeing room on the top floor of Testway House.

While the company has agreed that the refurbishment costs are in the region of £100,000, it clarified that the office space is being adapted to include more hot desks and meeting rooms.

The reception area has also been regenerated with facilities allowing customers to access their online accounts.

An Aster spokesperson said: “We are proud to invest in our people and our office in Andover.

"We are committed to making Aster a great place to work and will invest in modernising and adapting our office environments to ensure our colleagues are best able to do their jobs and service our customers.”

The £100,000 expenditure comes just weeks after we reported that Aster intends to bill its Kingsway Gardens leaseholders up to £27,000 per property – around £37,000 including VAT and a 15 per cent administration charge – for maintenance work which is disputed.

Aster has also hiked garage rental charges, with many customers facing a near 70 per cent rise in fees. Andover town councillor Andy Fitchet said:

“I am shocked to hear Aster have spent £100,000 on a new reception area and desk space for the Andover office, when 300 yards away they are charging residents £30,000 each to fix structural problems that they, as the freeholder, should be responsible for. Aster should be ashamed.”